Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Squabbling Beaurocrats

Boy wouldn't it be great to have a nice big lake right near Durango where we could all fish? I'm sure our hunting and fishing license dollars could fund the stocking and a simple, self-policed management plan similar to that of Puett, Summit, Lemon, Pastorius or countless other local lakes could keep the place in good shape. Oh wait. We do have a big giant well stocked lake right next door and thanks to the endless squabbling of worthless bureaucrats, we are just driving past, enjoying the view. I think honestly, it might be time to organize a peaceful "Fish-In" where we go and take the lake built with our tax dollars and fish stocked with our license dollars. They can't arrest us all, can they? (Ok, yes they probably can...) It is after all, our lake. The Animas La-Plata Project was bad enough. Ruining a great place to hunt was bad enough, but not letting us use the lake made from it all is unacceptable. Acceptable management strategy? What about skip the tribute gardens, skip the picnic areas, skip all of that and let people access their lake. Funny how most of the lakes in the area don't have ANS inspections and they also don't have ANS. The simple fact is anglers are good and responsible people who police themselves. There are always a few bad apples, sure, but to punish the 99% for that 1% is unrealistic. Being told that the lake would not open until spring of 2013 was heartbreaking, but being told that date is being pushed further back makes me want to go get arrested for trespassing (on public land.) It reminds me of when Ralph Waldo Emerson visited Henry David Thoreau in the Concord, Massachusetts jail. Thoreau was imprisoned for refusing to pay an unjust poll tax. When Emerson said "Henry why are you here?" Thoreau's reply was "Waldo, why are you not here?"

Civil disobedience aside, with no lake in Durango, we fished today at Summit Reservoir briefly. We couldn't find any water deeper than 4 feet and it was muddy water and like every time we go to Summit, we ran across some derelicts who left a nice pile of cigarette butts in their wake. There are weirdos at that lake and I've yet to pull a fish from it. Maybe that'll save the big ones for the creepy weirdos, but I don't know if I'll ever go back there (until someone pulls a state record out of its fetid, muddy waters.) Oh who am I kidding, I'll be back there at least to listen to the outhouse trumpet player.

Remembering how good the Yellow Perch we ate the other night were, we headed to Jackson and pulled out enough for dinner and headed home. There's still quite a bit of slush on the lake, and it's cold out there but the Perch are biting fine. They like little shiny things tipped with a bit of crawler. It was a nice day out there, but driving 30 mins to get to good fishing in any direction when there's a giant lake right here that has been filled to capacity since June of 2011 is ridiculous. No one is listening, no one is doing anything about it, and the various squabbling government agencies can't be trusted to come up with an equitable solution. If I was a little more crazy, I'd say it's time to put on some good cammo and go fishin. I've kept my comments about this fiasco to myself for quite a while but enough is enough!

Monday, January 28, 2013

San Juan Rain and Vallecito Slush

My fishin buddy Alex, who has taught me so much about the catching, cooking and watching of animals over the years, decided to come down for a quick trip to the San Juan from his home in the frozen tundra of the north. "We're gonna go camp on the Juan and catch some big damn fish" he says excitedly. This is the guy who first took me to the San Juan, where I was heartily skunked and caught the back of my head. I'm thinking I have a chance to redeem myself, to show off that I can pull hogs out of the Juan with the greatest of ease, hell, I'm gonna throw a whoopin on these.... wait a second.. did he say "camping?"

Fortunately, the dude does not mess around when it comes to camping. Avid hunters tend to have warm dry camps in the worst weather and when your tent is enormous and has a woodstove in it, well heck that's warm and dry. We set up the massive wall tent at Cottonwood Campground just in time for the rain to start. We fished a bit at Simon Canyon before dark, I caught 1 decent fish and a bunch of smaller fish, nothing too exciting. When the darkness made it impossible to see our flies or indicators we headed back to camp, treated to Elk Bratwurst and Whiskey. We were joined by Seth of Durango Custom Rods and the amazing photographer Brett Henderson, making the grand total of sleepers in the tent 5. Josh from Wines Of The San Juan was along too but of course his bed was just a couple miles down the road. I've never been some comfortable camping in my life, and it's raining like crazy in January on the San Juan. The moral of the story is.. I'm getting a big wall tent, they're awesome! The fishing was pretty good on Saturday, although the storms did nothing to reduce the crowd. Our plan to run through the braids early before it was too crowded failed miserably, possibly due to the aforementioned whiskey, so we headed straight up to the Cable Hole area, just below the dam. I used a small midge below a San Juan Worm on this area and caught most of my fish on the San Juan Worm but the biggest on the midge. It was cold, rainy and kinda miserable so we retired back to the tent for good grub! I forgot my net and Travis, who met us down there, brought it for me from Durango, what a guy!

On Sunday we had to come back to pick up our friend at Durango Airport. We stopped by Pastorus on the way back to check the condition of the ice after the rain, it was still solid. There were some folks fishing over by the boat ramp where it can't be much deeper than 3 feet. I wonder if they caught anything? Our visiting friend Rob brought us some cool gear from the fishing apparel company Dedicated Ten and some fun jigging rattle traps and blade spoons for Walleye attempts. We headed to Vallecito today and found at least 6 inches of watery slush on top the ice. It was fairly unpleasant. Note to self, I need waterproof boots. BETTER waterproof boots that is, mine let water in but they sure don't let it out. We didn't fish for long, the weather was miserable. We tried a different spot than usual it was shallow, blah blah blah, in general it was just a crappy day to be out there. I know that I usually flaunt the virtue of fishing this type of weather but today was just a tad nasty. Oh well. A better day awaits us tomorrow!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Perch Fiesta at Mancos State Park

It feels good to target something and catch it. I'll be the first to extol the virtues of Trout. A well fed Trout can taste better than anything you could possibly buy at any market at any price, however, after 2340982309843 recipes, you might just get the hankerin for a different flavor. We'd heard that Jackson Gulch Reservoir in Mancos State Park had abundant Perch, so much that they plead with anglers to keep and cook their catch. Every time we've targeted the Perch with no ice, we've been unsuccessful catching small Rainbow after small Rainbow. The Rainbows look healthy and happy but hey, small Rainbows are a dime a dozen around here. Yesterday was a different story.

We arrived later in the afternoon to creaking, cracking and groaning ice. Don't sweat it, it's 7 inches thick, just think of the noise as a soundtrack to your day. We brought night crawlers. Those of you who know me know that I sort of have a thing for bait, I usually make fun of the fishermen that use it, but it's a big lake out there and I've got a 10 inch column in which to work, so a bit of crawler on the end of the lure is pretty much a must. So I lift my bait snobbery for ice fishing... just ice fishing, and still won't touch that vile powerbait that leaves neon dayglo splotches all over the ice.

The first time I dropped my gold 1/8oz Kastmaster down the hole it fell and fell it must have been close to 25 or 30 feet deep. When I reeled tension to the line after it hit bottom there was an 11" Perch on it! I repeated this time and time again but the fish were mostly in the neighborhood of 6" I pulled out one more 11" tubby mamma but generally speaking it was small fish. If you fished anywhere but the bottom you'd catch a Rainbow so we stayed close to the bottom and brought up 40 Perch. That sounds like a lot but once they're filleted, you're not feeding an army that's for sure. The bigger fillets I breaded and fried for fish n chips. DELICIOUS! Mellow yet flavorful and delicate, this is damn good eating. I defy you to find better fish n chips anywhere. Stay on the bottom and be patient. Don't worry about the little guys they fry up just fine. Perch have a slow working swim bladder so typically when you bring them up from these depths the swim bladder has expanded, likely causing internal damage. Catch and release ice fishing for Perch is not a thing, just go out there intending to catch a lot of lil fish and sharpen your fillet knife! They're worth the work, and the more we catch them the bigger the average size will be, as there will be less competition for the available food. The bag limit is unlimited for Perch on the Western Slope, so gear up, drill a hole and go get some, you won't regret it!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Vallecito Ice Fishing Report

It was pretty slow, but Lisa brought up a nice Rainbow. There were Coyotes running around the ice and it was a pleasant day with grumbling noisy ice. Ice is 7-8" thick. We fished with spoons tipped with shoepeg. We took some friends and their kids out today, always a good thing to introduce kids to fishing so in the future when everyone is expected to eat Quinoa and starve Bolivians that someone will still remember how to fish.


Saturday, January 19, 2013

Williams Creek Ice Fishing Report

It was a nice day out there. The same slushy top sheet of snow/slush was on WCR and it made the going a bit slushy but the ice was thick. My visiting brother brought in a nice fat colorful rainbow while the rest of us tinkered around with Cuts and Brookies. The fish in that lake are vibrant and healthy. Seems like there are a LOT of Brookies so we try to keep some of'em each time. All the fish from that lake are delicious. All of the various species have pink meat and a healthy shine!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Slow at Lemon

We brought up 4 fish, those funny looking stunted Rainbows, big tails, small bodies. Nice day on the ice. The same slushy layer on the top as Vallecito but it was hardening very quickly, making the total ice depth at least 8". We did some sledding while the fishin was slow.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Vallecito Ice

There's something interesting with the ice at Vallecito right now. There's a layer of snow about 2 inches or 3, followed thin, cloudy ice, under which is about an inch of water. Under that is about 5 or 6 inches of good thick ice. I have no idea how this could happen with the freezing temperatures (including a record low) in the last 2 weeks. My best guess is that the snow across the entire lake was enough weight to push the ice down a bit and allow water to flood the top. Sound? I dunno it was just a thought, what do you think?

Fishing was slow.. Vallecito has produced the slowest ice fishing we've experienced this year (well aside from Puett which is always slow) compared to the quick catch at Lemon and the lights out madness at Williams Creek. We did manage a few tasty Kokanee and Lisa pulled a chubby rainbow out. Good times, but a hair slow.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Frozen at Puett...

We decided to check out Puett and were targeting Perch. The ice is about 6 inches thick and in good shape. The high was 18 today, and I doubt it was even that out there. The holes would ice back over in a minute or two. I hooked what I assume was a big Pike, because as soon as it was on, it was off and my Jig was gone. It was really really really really cold. Puett is tough, but catchin that big one is always pretty exciting.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Williams Creek

We had a great adventure going to Williams Creek Reservoir where the fish were biting like mad. 4 cuts, a ton of Brookies and a pretty damn nice Kokanee.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A bad day fishing is better than a good day at work...

They weren't biting at Vallecito. The ice is considerably thinner than Lemon and made some scary sounds, but it is still plenty thick. We all had a bite or two, but nothing solid on a variety of lures. Maybe Williams Creek will be better? Drop us a line on our Facebook Page and let us know how you like to catch fish through the ice!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

BRRRRRRRR

Happy 2013!!! We have a slide show of 2012's fishing coming up but it's been a bit of a lag getting it together, but lately I haven't had fishing on the mind. We've experienced a week of extremely cold temperatures to set the final touches on the ice of big bodies of water. I've been tying flies for the next season and getting ready to ice fish. Fly Fish The San Juans has uploaded a bunch of cool videos to their Youtube account, make sure you get over there and check them out! Here's an example below. It's funny this is a guy who brings in 20" fish on 7x in a minute, but this big Animas Cutbow takes him for a ride after taking his Sculpin.